Stargirl

 

 

Superman Returns by John Ottman

Listen while you read.

stargirl

I left Earth once.

I was sixteen years old, home alone, watching Return of the Jedi. It was dusk, and I knew I would have the house to myself again, a medium-sized house in the middle of a mountain pass surrounded by nothing but forest and brush, all half dead and dried-out. I spent most of my hours alone in the Family Room, marathoning movies like Aliens and Star Wars until I’d had the entire series memorized.

This night felt different. My attention was split between the television screen (Luke, Leia, and Han entering the Sanctuary Moon of Endor’s atmosphere) and the red sun sinking behind the mountainous terrain outside my window. A blanket of star-studded black inked out the red sky. Luke and Han were being held hostage by the Ewoks. I felt a wave of yearning like little pinpricks across my skin. How I wanted so much to be apart of something else, to live in a different world and time, to travel beyond the mountains and the moon and the stars.

I blinked my attention back on the screen. Threepio just assisted in the release of Han and Luke’s capture, and Leia came out greeting them both. Blink—the sky was fully black with only half of the moon reflecting a soft silver light. If I wanted, I could go there. But I would have to do it now. This was my only chance.

I took a deep breath, looked back at the television screen, Luke and Leia were just discovering each other’s familial relationship, and I blinked hard.

I kept my eyes shut. A warm breeze floated by and the sound of night animals echoed in the distance. It smelled like pine and rich green lush, damp, with a hint of earth.

I opened my eyes. I was surrounded by trees, their tops disappearing in the darkness above. Distant stars glittered faintly through the thick foliage at the top, and the animal sounds became more distinct. They were the creatures called Ewoks, their tribal calls echoing throughout the jungle of giant tree trunks.

I shivered slightly, despite the warm air. I glanced down. My clothes had changed. I wore only a crude leather skirt and top, two pieces that barely covered me, and I wore sandals made of simple flatwood and string. The entire outfit looked to be more Ewokish than human, but big enough to be fitted onto me.

Why was I here?

Oh yes! I remembered. I was sent down to Endor by my father, the Emperor. I was on a secret mission, that’s right! To make certain that Vader did not betray my father and join Luke Skywalker in a revolt. I had to make sure that Vader took Skywalker to the Death Star and that he was brought before my father, so that, in the end, Skywalker and my father could negotiate a way of peace and end the war between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. I knew that Luke was Vader’s son and so did my father. If Luke could be persuaded, the rest of the Alliance would follow.

Of course, I knew the truth. I knew the Emperor wanted Luke to join the Dark Side of the Force and that my “father” was evil. But I was here now. I had to play along, otherwise they would all discover I didn’t belong.

I heard footsteps suddenly, off to my right and further down a bit. It was Luke Skywalker, fully dressed in a black jumpsuit, lightsaber hanging by his side. He was moving towards the direction of the Imperial shield generator.

I couldn’t believe it! It was really him!

I moved to follow, quickly in order to catch up. I only made it a few steps before Luke whirled on me, his right gloved hand trying hard not to rip at his lightsaber. He was, after all, preparing to surrender to the Imperial forces.

Surprise washed over his sullen face, his blue eyes glistening in the dark. “Who are you?” he demanded.

I paused. Who was I, after all? I had to think up a name fast. Lee, Chris, Lilliya (no, that’s another story!) Christalee!

“I am Christalee,” I said. I was elated. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. It took all my willpower to keep myself from springing around in some sort of wild ecstasy. Focus, Christalee, or else Luke will become suspicious and I will lose this chance! “I am with the Ewok tribe,” I lied, grimacing at my pathetic excuse. I should have rehearsed something before… “I followed you here because I overheard that you were going to the shield generator—to turn yourself in.”

“That is true,” he said, cautiously. But he said no more, starring at me in bewilderment, probably wondering why he hadn’t sensed me following him.

“You shouldn’t go.” What?! Of course he should.

“I don’t know you,” he said, coming a step closer. “But I think it would be best if you returned to the village.”

“If you’re going to the generator, I’m coming with. You’ll need someone at your back,” I said.

His mouth twitched into a wry smile. “Thank you for your concern, Christalee,” he said, shaking his head. “But what I’m doing must be done alone. Go back to the village. It’s safer there.”

He turned and continued steadily towards the shield generator. I followed (and I couldn’t believe that I was following!).

Luke stopped and turned around. “I’m very serious,” he said. “Please go back to the village. I won’t be able to protect you.”

“I’m not the one needing protection,” I said. “The Empire killed my family, Luke. I have nothing left. My decision here is my own and if I choose to follow you, so that I might have a purpose in life, to face the dangers with you, to fight next to you, that is my choice.” As the words tumbled from my mouth, I was astounded. My lie was getting better and better!

Luke stood there, struggling to argue back, but the expression on his face said that he felt pity. There was nothing he could argue against what I said, because he was that person too.

“I don’t know why you want to do this,” Luke said. “But I guess I can’t stop you. Remember, I won’t be able to protect you.” With that, his face fell sad, and he turned to continue towards the generator.

And I followed. I followed Luke Skywalker, the man with the green lightsaber. My adventure was beginning.

It all happened so quickly. Once we reached the perimeter, we were surrounded by Imperial troops. They shackled Luke and me, taking us into the base. There, Vader stormed in with his usual stride. I felt his surprise when he looked upon me (that’s right! I now had the Force). He recognized me and ultimately knew I was there to watch him. He gestured for the stormtroopers to take me into the shuttle, leaving himself and Luke alone for a minute.

As I sat inside the shuttle waiting, I could sense Luke’s struggle to convince his father to turn good again. The writhing battle of emotions: anger, sadness, and a strange hint of betrayal, all came at me in one blow. I choked, a wave of dizziness coming over me, and I fought back the urge to cry. I had to figure this Force stuff out fast before it overwhelmed me; it obviously took me by surprise that I had any connection at all.

But of course I did! I was the daughter of the Emperor, genetically engineered to be the strongest human in the Force. I had been bred in a tube, injected with midichlorians every growth cycle. I was one of many, but the only human to have developed successfully. All the others were terminated.

Soon, Luke joined me in the shuttle, Vader following a few minutes later. We took off for the Death Star.

Luke didn’t speak the whole trip. But I knew what he was thinking: that this was either the end or the beginning, that he might be on his way to die, that he would fail and the Alliance would fail…that this girl next to him might die too.

When we reached the moon-sized space station, Luke and I were separated. However, my experience was quite different. Everyone recognized me and stiffened noticeably when I walked by. I pulled an android aside to escort me to my quarters (because I had no idea my way around this station!) The android took me without question. (It’s all here, it’s all real!)

As soon as I changed into something more regal, a shimmery red gown, the material fitting around my sixteen year-old body in a way more appropriate for adults, I made my way to the Throne Room. I knew Luke and Vader would be there already, and I had no trouble finding this place. I reached out for Luke and found him. I also caught a glimpse of my so-called “father.” My skin crawled at the vast darkness I sensed in him. It was as if there was a deep, black hole in which something with teeth lurked, and if I got too close, it would grab me and drag me down to eat me.

I arrived at the Throne Room.

“Ah, my child,” the Emperor said, his voice drawing a shiver up my back. “Join us. We were just discussing the future of the galaxy.”

I made my way up the black, metal stairs, glancing at Vader who did not acknowledge me, glancing at Luke, whose eyes were full of accusation and shock as he stared me down, and then I finally dared to meet the Emperor’s burning gaze.

He smiled. Not a nice smile. It was full of evil and contempt, power and murderous desire. Pale light glinted off his rotten teeth. I repressed a shudder.

I stood by the left of my father’s chair. Vader was on the right. He hated me. I could sense it. Luke almost hated me too. It occurred to me that my father wanted this, so that I could assist in the turning of Luke to the dark side.

Luke gave me one more disdainful look before turning back to the viewport. Out in space, the battle was raging between Imperial and Alliance ships.

“…now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!” I heard my father say.

And then it started. A few more taunts and Luke was ripping his lightsaber off the Emperor’s chair, swinging. I cried out, No!, before I even realized it. And Vader interjected his red blade to block Luke’s green one.

They fought. The Emperor laughed. I stood helpless. There was an uncontrollable urge to run out there and stop them, father and son, from cutting each other down. Then Luke yielded, briefly, flying up to one of the higher-up walkways. Vader let loose his blade, vibrant red slicing neatly through black metal, sparks flying, and Luke’s platform crashed with him on it.

I moved forward instinctually, but the Emperor grabbed my wrist—knobby, cold fingers wrapping like an iron shackle.

“Wait, my child,” he murmured, his voice like a whispery husk.

I could feel Luke’s fear and pain and hopelessness. He was failing. And I couldn’t help him. And then a sudden rage built up from beneath the Throne Room’s floor where Luke was hiding and Vader was hunting. The rage was followed by a scream so strong it cut through the air as hot as a laser from a lightsaber: the word Never!

And then Vader was being overthrown by Luke wildly swinging his saber in every direction. One blow after another blow. Until Vader fell to his side against one of the bottomless shaft’s rail guards. Another blow, swing, crash, slice—Luke sheared through Vader’s right hand, it and the red lightsaber disappearing down the shaft. Luke pointed the tip of his green blade beneath Vader’s mask.

The Emperor laughed. “Good,” he said. “Good.”

Then something happened. Luke stopped, looked at his right hand, then disengaged his lightsaber. “I’ll never turn to the dark side,” he said. “You failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.”

Silence. I watched my father carefully, who had moved ever so slightly down the metal stairs towards Skywalker. But he was perfectly still. And I felt it—what was coming. An unstoppable wave, dark and suffocating. I knew that if Luke didn’t join my father, he was to be killed.

“So be it,” the Emperor said. “Jedi.”

“No!” I screamed out, flying forward to intersect the arcs of lightning that shot out from my father’s fingers.

I crashed right into Luke, knocking us both down in writhing electrical spasms.

The Emperor’s golden, burning gaze stared at me in horror. Then anger. Then a strange mix of serenity and control reflected in his eyes. “My child,” he said. “You too, then, shall die.”

Luke and I lay there waiting for the coming blow. It came all too quickly, the flesh burning under the arcs of electricity. We couldn’t help but cry out in response. Seconds passed like hours, it seemed, and death couldn’t be any slower. The Emperor would stop and start and stop again just to torture us with words of victory.

And all Vader did was watch. But through all the painful spasms, lightning licking at my limbs, crawling up my skull and injecting my eye sockets with fiery needles, I could sense in Vader his own torment. His sudden sense of doubt.

I thought I heard Luke scream out Father!, but I couldn’t be sure. I was deaf from the pounding in my head. So I yelled out, “Vader! Do something!” My teeth clamped back down together in another violent wave of convulsions.

Suddenly, I heard a new voice join the screaming, an old man’s scream, and the burning ceased. I looked up and saw Vader carrying the Emperor—my father—towards the shaft. Lightning crackled down my father and into Vader. And then he released, throwing my father down the shaft, screaming all the way. A few seconds later, a blue energy erupted from the hole of the shaft. Vader collapsed. And my father, the Emperor, was dead.

Luke was next to me, watching too. He glanced at me, gasping for breath, and then forced himself up to cradle his own father, the father he never knew, and would never know. I watched, stunned, my skin smoking. It smelled like charred meat and metal.

After what seemed like the longest minutes of our lives, we were able to get to our feet, sling Vader’s arms about our shoulders and carry him to a shuttle. The Death Star was about to explode, the evacuate sirens were blaring. Luke and I collapsed at the shuttle’s lip. I ran inside to start up the engines. I don’t know how I knew, but things were starting to just come to me, as if I’d known all along. By the time the engines were warm enough to take off, Vader had died and Luke was dragging his father’s corpse onto the ship.

Metal beams and platforms were crashing all around the shuttle as it slowly lifted off the floor. A fireball followed closely behind us as we left the landing bay. Luke and I both gasped in relief. The Death Star exploded in a glittering firework frenzy behind us. And we rode the trip back down to the Sanctuary Moon of Endor in silence.

—TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2—

Romantic Prelude

Romantic Prelude

I was at Bogie’s tonight.

This place held a special memory in my heart, considering I had met an extraordinary man there, whom I ended up falling in love with throughout the months we dated. (Yes, yes, I know it’s the place where cougars and divorced—or not-so divorced—men try to, ahem, “hook up.”) In any case, when that relationship disappeared into distant memory, I continued to Bogie’s to prove to myself I could go there without “the man” in mind, and to also prove to myself that I liked the place after all. I created Girls’ Nights and occasions to attend the casual Westlake lounge.

There was a bartender, charming and generous. He treated us girls with affection and unlimited alcoholic beverages. I liked him. Not because of the free drinks in a place where a martini would cost 14 dollars. I liked him because of the sparkle in his eyes; because of the slow, scoundrel-like smile that spread across his Italian, yet baby-face expression; because of how relaxed I could feel around him when he closed his arms around me in a warm, soft embrace and then the gentle kiss on my cheek, and the murmur he would say to me, “Please come back and I’ll buy you dinner.”

I liked him.

But I would never go there alone. The idea seemed embarrassing, even though I had in the past gone out to dinner by myself. But this was purely to see a man, FOR a man, to attract a man. Every time I imagined showing up to the bar by myself to see the handsome and charming bartender, I foresaw other beautiful girls sitting by themselves all waiting for the attention of the same young, Italian, baby-faced man. And, every time, I would convince myself that this man would never want me out of all the other beautiful options.

After all, I am a nerd. I am not the typical woman. I spend my off times either reading, writing Star Wars, or watching Star Trek episodes in order (or any science-fiction in that respect). I am an obsessive person. I discover things I like, or dislike, and obsess over them until there is nothing left to obsess about.

For approximately eight months, I have had random acquaintance with this enchanting young bartender. Sometimes at his work, sometimes at mine, and he even had the off-chance of meeting my father, spurring a BMW conversation while Dad was waiting for me to finish one of my shows. How one interacts with my parents is HUGE to me, and apparently the young bartender did reasonably well at the time, enough to be logged into my father’s memory. That’s a good bartender, Dad must’ve thought.

And as much as my crush compelled me to want him, I did not pursue. In the past, I had experienced negative results anytime I had pursued a man. They always disappeared. So I was tentative and rather discouraged to even show this young man that I was even interested in him.

Then, came the whimming itch. My whimming itch usually occurs when I feel ultimately down in life, discouraged in everything I do, and the feeling of “nothing to lose” comes to play.

I had been feeling this way for the past month, since the start of the new year. Somehow, my positive streak had dived down into negative, and I went sour. I worked non-stop and auditioned with no luck. Everything felt like crap. Then, one day at work, after months of not seeing The Bartender, or even thinking of him, he appeared. He had wrapped his arms around me and said, “Did you ever get my message? I had called your work to find you. To tell you not to come in when I had asked you to because I wouldn’t have been there. They switched my days. Did you ever get it?”

“I did,” I said, “and I texted you to say that it was okay, but I never got a response. I assumed it was the wrong number.”

And it was, just barely by a single misplaced numeral. About a month ago, I had remembered him asking me to come see him and that he would treat me dinner. Later, I had gotten the “cancel” message from work and was given the wrong number. But I had let it go, figuring this wasn’t meant to be in the first place.

And there he was again. At MY work, telling me he was sorry the shifts changed, that he’d hoped I got his message and that he wanted me to come in again THIS week.

Why would a person, as charming, vibrant, handsome and AVAILABLE as he be so persistent? I always imagined him surrounded by beautiful girls so that he would never need to persist.

And I know guys. A guy doesn’t go out of his way to find a girl without some sort of mission, however simple that mission may be.

So, when the time came, I almost didn’t go out. I knew that if I went to Bogie’s alone that I would be accosted by numerous, unrelenting old divorced (or MARRIED) men. I knew that I wouldn’t really be able to spend any time with The Bartender because he would be busy working.

Then I decided, what the hell. I’ve got to do something mysterious and exciting in my life, or else I’ll go nuts.

I dressed myself in sheer black stockings dotted with tiny hearts, a thin cream-pink shirt-dress with a black lace back, and black suede stiletto pumps. I have all these great clothes and never get the chance to wear them. So I did tonight.

When I showed up at Bogie’s around eight, the place was already full. I sat near a fire pit and waited for The Bartender to see me. He did and he smiled. He was very busy, though, as I knew he would be. Nonetheless, he was able to come over and say hello. He brought me a French martini, one of those pink vanilla flavored ones, and I ordered the Ahi Tuna Tartar. I sat by the fire pit enjoying my drink, trying to look busy on my phone, but all the while watching him work. There were three older men that night that tried to get my attention.

The first: Ken Something from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

“Are you really sitting here by yourself, alone?” he asked.

I said, “I’m actually here by invitation.” And I gestured to The Bartender.

“The Bartender?!” he exclaimed. Then he went on to say something about helping me out, or that he was looking for someone new because he and his girlfriend might be breaking up at some point, and that he’ll let The Bartender know that I like him, etc. I didn’t care what happened. The man had obviously plenty to drink. He continued to stress about how I might recognize him, which I didn’t. And not that it would have mattered anyhow. I had my eyes on The Bartender.

The second: Something Something married man. I didn’t bother to remember his name.

“Please tell me you’re not really here to watch the basketball game, right?” he said, gesturing to the game I was distracted by.

“No, you’re right. I’m actually here for The Bartender. He invited me to come out to see him tonight,” I said, as I sipped on my second drink, a smooth Pinot Noir.

“The Bartender?!” he bellowed. Then he went on to talk about himself, and how he wished he had a redhead to buy tomato soup for (I was currently nursing a tomato bisque at the time). I listened patiently, but not really paying any attention. My ears were picking up another conversation to my right from a couple deeply intrigued with each other.

It was obvious they had met that night, and the man was trying his very hardest to be agreeable, mysterious, troubled, smart, and a “good guy” all at the same time. There were a few times I couldn’t contain my laughter every time he proclaimed something only a woman would WANT to hear from a guy, proclamations undoubtedly quoted from all the other women he’d picked up in the past: “I’ve been bad before, but I truly believe in really knowing a person before sharing something as intimate as sex with them…as much as I enjoy it…I have been bad before, but I strive to be good…” The man might as well be saying, “Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit,” and the woman probably would still be interested.

Then I was brought back to my unfortunate conversation with Something Something, when suddenly The Bartender met my gaze. He looked at me as if to ask if I was okay. A gave him a smile to assure him that I could handle it and to not worry about me.

Something Something eventually left (although he had come back for a second try until realizing I wasn’t cracking).

Finally The Bartender came over to me, as the lounge began to wither to only a few.

Leaning over the bar and grasping my hands in his, he said, “This place is too dangerous for you. Next time you should bring a wingman.”

But I hadn’t wanted to bring anyone else with me. I only wanted to see him and wanted his attention only on me, not on another beautiful wingman. Besides, he had asked for ME to come, not me “and my friends.”

“I’m sorry I’ve been so busy,” he said, his voice silky and sweet, always drawing a smile from me.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I’ve been fairly amused by the people around me. Besides, I needed to come out and relax a little.”

“Let me make it up to you,” he said, still grasping my hands in his. “A real dinner where I’m not working. And we’ll do something fun.”

“That sounds great,” I said, my smile brightening. Boy, had I been waiting for him to ask, from the first day I saw him. So we swapped numbers and then, before I knew it, he was swept back up into work.

That’s when man number 3 came into play.

He was married just like man 2, but this one was much more harmless. He began asking me questions about what it was like to be an only-child, that he had a daughter he was worried about not growing up happy because she, too, was an only-child. That marriage was so hard, especially when he travelled so much. And he just wanted to know what it was like for me.

I told him I’d always been happy, and, though my parents were always away throughout my growing up years, I never questioned their love for me. That they were honest with me, which helped me to trust them as I grew older. And I was completely aware of my parents’ difficult marriage.

“I guess one of the most important keys in marriage is to always strive to be kind to one another, no matter how stressed out you are, how hurt or angry you are. It’s always easier to attack the person closest to you. So striving to show kindness regardless of the situation can very well keep a marriage safe.” I said this, although I wasn’t sure where all that came from, and watched the expression on this man’s face go from worried to an almost bewildered yet peaceful countenance.

“You are wise beyond your years,” he murmured, shaking his head, as if surprising himself that he said it at all.

“No I’m not,” I said. “It’s just something my mother taught me. I have yet to experience what marriage is like.”

“Thank you, anyway,” he said. “I feel better talking to you. I have to leave now. Have a goodnight. And thank you.”

And man number 3 left, just like that.

And I was alone at the bar. The Bartender was busying himself with closing tabs. There were two other men at the far end of the bar that tried to invite me to join them, but I firmly told them I was here WITH The Bartender.

“I’ve been using you as an excuse,” I later told him.

He smiled. “Good. Thank you so much for coming in anyway. I hope it was somewhat enjoyable.”

“It was,” I said. “Thank you for treating me. I hope we can do something outside of Bogie’s next time.”

“Me too.”

I got up to leave and he gave me a big hug and a quick kiss on the mouth. I found it interesting how relaxed and natural I felt in his arms. There didn’t seem to be any awkwardness that usually accompanies two people who barely knew each other.

When I arrived home, I received a text from The Bartender saying, “Thank you beautiful for coming in tonight! Xoxo!”

I smiled as I climbed into bed. Whether or not he ever decides to call me, it didn’t matter. It felt good to feel attractive again. It felt good that I made myself whim again. It felt good that the unknown was out there again. He had my number now. Who knows if he’ll use it. But it’s fun to know it’s out there. And never knowing what might happen is the beauty of a whim, and a possible prelude to a romance.

Waitin’ on the zombies.

zombies

So I hear the end of the world is coming, 2012, and that there’ll be zombies afoot. Well, that’s just great, because I’ve always wanted to blow zombie heads with a shotgun—a whim I’ve wanted to take a wham at for years. I’ve been practicing too, 2012. Honing my skills in Nazi Zombies, Resident Evil, and Left 4 Dead. Learning to reload in stressful, fast-paced situations. And running. Running is always key.

But what I really want for Christmas, 2012—oops, sorry, already past, lemme rephrase—what I really want for New Years is to be able to quit my current job, The Restaurant. Although, I figure the end of the world is coming ‘n all, which would mean the end of The Restaurant indefinitely, I’d much rather spend my last year NOT working for them and finally working for ME. Selfish? Absolutely. Why not think of yourself in the final months of human life on this planet? That’s what whimming really is all about, anyhow. You whim when you lose. Whim when you have NOTHING to lose. Whim when you’re a losER. Whim when it’s the last thing you can do. Whimming is for yourself when you have nobody else.

Personally, I don’t believe it’s the end of the world at all. And I’ll admit, grudgingly, I’ve been a poor whimmer in 2011. My career as an actress has enveloped me into a career-only lifestyle. And it’s very lonely, I have to say. However, I had been ecstatic about everything that happened in 2011. I visited, AND performed, in Hawaii for the first time. I did three musicals back to back without a break. I had my very first lead in California, playing opposite Sally Struthers, a celebrity no less! And I finally got a theater agent, which was my New Years resolution for 2011.

So because of my unrelenting concentration in one path, my career, I had neglected to do the things I’d never done before. I brushed aside the adventures that awaited me. I ignored the possibilities of new friendships because there was no time left. The whimmer who searches for new experiences in life had died in me somehow. Even on New Year’s Eve I refused going out with a small group of good people, a whim to downtown L. A. it was to be, and instead stayed at home with myself watching Star Trek. Not a bad night. In fact it was very relaxing. The only thing I kissed that night was my cat. Dare I say it, I sound old. And that is something I swore I’d never be. Life should never be boring or old. Life is our one shot at anything. You never know when it’s your time to go…or if a zombie might get you. Don’t sit and wait for them either. Live so hard that it hurts so good.

With that said, 2012, may it be that I never grow old; may it be that I never know loneliness; may it be that I love harder than ever; and may it finally be that I can QUIT The Restaurant, for the love of all that’s holy! Because who knows? A zombie might actually get me. But at least I won’t be waitin’.

A Smart Little Thought for 2012

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

 

-Mother Teresa

Quote of quote taken from Michael W. Smith.

Black Friday

I was thankful for a lot of things this year. My parents whom I can’t live without. My grandma who helps me see life from the eyes of someone who’s been around for a while. My new agent that I got right after doing Annie!!! My kitteh-cat, Indy, the one indything I’m happy to come home to.

BUT BLACK FRIDAY is NOT what I’d be thankful for…EVER.

 

So my parents and I have never actually tried out Black Friday before because we feared the hour long line where, somehow, you feel like they should have figured out the fast-pass at some point recent. Disney got it right, for heck’s sake!

Mom had this wild idea to try it out for the first time this year. Well, why not. I’m a whimmer, after all. How bad could it be in Prescott Valley, Arizona, where the town itself is nearly ghostified. Prescott Valley

Mind you, some of those houses aren’t even occupied, as in never finished, as in real estate got so bad the companies ran like sh#t.

Okay, so I’m not a fan. You might as well accuse me of despising the entire state of Arizona…because you would be right.

 

Anyhow, in the small section of Arizona called Prescott, Mom and I are thinking chances are good at the midnight opening of Black Friday…not so much.

Lost mom…so took refuge in the kid game aisle.

I pretty much lost mom for about an hour. She told me I couldn’t hang around her, so I was assuming she was attempting to shop for me. After about thirty minutes, I decided to look for her.

Searching for mother in Best Buy.

I went back to my car after this. She called me fifteen minutes later saying she’d given up as well. There was one line and it circled the inside of the building. She said it wasn’t even moving.

Yeah.

We’re not doing that again. What a whim that wasn’t!

O My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose

How fitting it is the older I get, the more I can finally understand the lyrics to songs and truly relate in ways I never imagined I would.

For the Salute to Valor concert, which took place in Oahu, Hawaii on Fourth of July weekend, my dad gave me a solo to do for one of the performances.

“Great,” I grumbled, “so you’re gonna make me learn a new song on top of all the other music I’m working on for the concert PLUS the musical I’m in after that.”

“You’ll be fine,” Dad said with his usual persuasion. “You’re a fast learner.”

“Yeah, but I wanted to be stress-free and completely lazy on my first trip to Hawaii,” I argued.

“It’s really easy, Baby,” he said. “Besides, I need someone to fill the spot. You’re the only one who can do it.”

That’s the usual persuasion: you’re the only one.

“Fine, what it is?” I said.

Dad gave me the solo “Wade in the Water” which, after I quickly downloaded it off of iTunes, attained the music, the song WAS easy to learn and a lot of fun to sing. It was upbeat and had a lot of belting rifts I could throw in there just for fun. A real great gospel type.

As soon as I got the song down and memorized, Mom called.

“Hey, Baby?” she said, all calm and charming-like. “We’re going to have you sing ‘Red, Red Rose’ instead.”

“What?! That’s Dad’s song. I thought he was doing it?” I said.

“He can’t. After doing Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, your Dad can’t get back his high notes so soon before the Salute to Valor concert. And you know ‘Red, Red Rose’ is all about floaty high notes,” Mom said.

“Yeah he can. He can do it,” I argued.

“No, Baby. Trust me, your dad’s not too happy about it either,” she said. “But you’re the only one who can do it right, other than him.”

“But—“

“It’ll be great! You’ll do it beautifully,” she said.

I agreed, grudgingly of course. I didn’t want to mess around with Dad’s song. A singer always has THEIR song, and “Red Rose” was Dad’s. I have a few that I’ve claimed for myself. Smile

So I quickly downloaded the song, got the music and learned it as fast as I could. Wasn’t too hard, considering I had heard Dad sing it plenty throughout my childhood.

Once we arrived in Hawaii, we had one day of rehearsal for the small A-capella group run by my father. I had decided to make the song my own. I abandoned the classical technique normally used for folk songs like ‘Red Rose’ because I wanted people to really understand what I was saying. I realized, after I had learned the music, how much I could relate to the lyrics. Of course, Dad wanted me to soften the consonants

But I didn’t. I’m that stubborn. This is what I sang.

Copy taken from the balcony of an anonymous guest.

O my love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.

O my love is like a melody that’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair thou art, my bonnie lass, so deep in love am I. And I will love thee still, my dear, till all the seas gang dry.

Till all the seas gang dry, my dear, till all the seas gang dry.

And I will love thee still, my dear, till all the seas gang dry.

Till all the seas gang dry, my dear, and the rocks melt with the sun. And I will love thee still, my dear, while the sands of life shall run.

But fair thee well, my only love, oh fair thee well a while. And I will come again, my love. Tho ‘twere ten thousand mile.

Tho ‘twere ten thousand mile, my love. Tho ‘twere ten thousand mile.

And I will come again, my love, tho ‘twere ten thousand mile.

Anyone who’s lost a love, or is far away from their love, can really feel this song. I know I did. That’s what was so fun about it. Knowing what I was saying, feeling it come from inside, and letting it out in one pure sound.

So I’m thinking of claiming this song too…as long as Dad let’s me borrow it. Winking smile

Why Actors Are Skinny

The week before opening night for Annie was a stressful and nearly discouraging one for me. I had never before cared so much about getting the role I was playing just right! The part of Grace Farrell was my project. In the past, I had played characters like “Guenevere” in Camelot and “Louisa” in The Fantasticks, but these women all had some sort of emotional fluctuation or quirkiness about them with personalities an actor could really mess around with.

But Grace was none of these. She was a straightforward business woman from the thirties, a woman with infinite patience and positivity. A real lady type. Strong, but delicate and demure. And never aggressive. And the LAST thing I wanted to do was make her boring!

Being a redheaded, Scottish AND Irish girl myself, it was very difficult to suppress my aggressive nature. And so it became a fabulous challenge, being that Grace was a role I had never tackled before in my career.

Opening night was only a few days away and I still wasn’t happy with my character portrayal. I was doing all I could, channeling Olivia DeHavilland, practicing my patience at The Restaurant (my bill paying job). My lines and songs were down solid, so that wasn’t the issue.

The real issue was that I was beginning to think I was a terrible actress. I lost my appetite and stopped eating. My stomach felt like it would erupt at any given moment. I was clinging to my confidence by a thread. Every night after dress rehearsal I went home in tears. And then, of course, I would get angry because I felt so pathetic. Because I had never reacted this way before. Even on opening night, as my wig was being placed on my head, I burst into tears (which was really stupid considering all the heavy makeup I had on).

As I paced alone in my dressing room, listening to the ensemble sing over the monitors, I rehearsed my lines in “Grace-speak.” I knew I had about ten minutes left before my entrance, all the while there was a pressure behind my eyes threatening to make me cry again.

Stupid, I thought, you’re being so stupid!

And then I recalled what my friend Noelle, who was also in the show playing Lily St. Regis, said to me earlier: “Just have fun and don’t care so much about what other people think of you. Just enjoy it!”

And then I remembered what my mother said: “Remember, in the whole scheme of things, it’s just a show.”

Tactics at making your anxiety go away. The funny thing was, I knew this all along, but I had gotten so caught up with the largeness of the production of Annie and its star talents that I actually let my nerves take over. Nervousness!! Something that Rowaders don’t usually feel. I guess there really IS a first time for everything…

So my ten minutes were up and I stepped out on stage to greet my scene partner Sally Struthers. It was all over from there on out…my anxiety, that is. Winking smile 

Anyway, one day someone said to me, “You are so skinny!”

“That’s because I haven’t eaten in a week,” I laughed.

“Why?” she said.

“Because I was freaking out.”

And so is the life of an actor…

 

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Grace

Year 2 is done, Year 3, here we go!

Driving to Simi Valley on September 10th, 2009.

Tomorrow marks my two year anniversary with California. And, boy, did it fly. The first year was filled with fun, friends, and my romance with the Terminator.The Terminator and I had two internships with a PR and management company. I also did two shows that year: the monologue show Sex, Relationships, and Sometimes Love by Joelle Arqueros and Cabrillo Music Theatre’s production of Cinderella. During my first year, I was still getting the handle of the Los Angeles freeway system (mainly their illogically random on and off ramps) and trying to make new friends seemed more difficult since I wasn’t in school. A fellow coworker at the time even had said, “You won’t make it one year here.” He was drunk when he’d said that, so I didn’t take him seriously. In any case, those kinds of comments only make me fight harder to prove they are wrong.

By the end of the first year, I felt in limbo. I’m a very impatient person and, because of this, I felt I hadn’t accomplished anything. I had to keep reminding myself that these things take time, that I can’t become successful within just ONE year. My relationship with the Terminator ended in the summer as well. He had been the only close friend I had made, so the loss brought me back to square one when concerning friendships.

anne, shaneen, and meAnd so I got to work. At the start of my second year, I ended up becoming very close with Anne from work. Shaneen, Alisha, and a few others became close as well. It was nice finally having some girlfriends.

The beginning of my second year, I also discovered I was not invincible to the dangers of dating, learning the lesson quickly never to get drunk alone with a guy you barely knew.

Then a week later, still fuming over my bad date, a few of my girlfriends made me go out to a lounge bar, Bogie’s, to lighten my spirits. Although, a bar filled with men was the last place I wanted to be. But that’s when I met Mr. Georgia, a producer for television. And so began a multitude of whimming adventures! My first private jet experience, my first Las Vegas high-life experience, the Magic Castle, the Getty Museum, Dom Perignon champagne. There was always something new to look forward to. Needless to say, I got swept.

S7303320Then there were those tender moments that really swept me. The kind that made you feel like you never felt that way before. You know, the “oh my gosh, is this it?” feeling. I can honestly say I had never had that feeling before, so it definitely took me by surprise. This was also my first experience dating a man who already had had a previous married life and a child. My mother had always told, from experience, to not get involved with divorced men, that my life would be very hard and almost unbearable. But then again, my parents’ romance is the foundation to how I look at my own romance. Although they had a rough first 8 or 9 years, they have one of the happiest, most passionate and romantic marriages I’ve ever known. I want that.

Half way through my second year, I experienced the “in love” feeling. In the past, it used to be inconceivable to me. So, with much consult with my mother, I allowed myself to admit that I was in love with Mr. Georgia. I like to mark that moment in my personal history. It was so unreal, I couldn’t believe it was happening.

Then it was gone. Not the feeling, but the relationship. Timing, I suppose…Mr. Georgia did not feeling the same way…it could be a number of things. I don’t think I’ll ever get a straight answer, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. I’m just happy I got to experience that used-to-be enigma of a feeling. Also helps with my acting. Another experience I can add to my list.

From their, I suddenly became audition addicted. I was still healing from the loss of Mr. Georgia, but it lit a fire under me to find as many distractions I could grab. And what more of a perfect distraction is getting into a show. Not only would it keep me busy, but it’s a part of my career path!

That’s when I landed Funny Girl at the Downey Civic Light Opera.250371_10150195826572011_506872010_7113574_2689920_n I played a small role named Polly. It was a lot of fun, but was a hell of a drive. I experienced my first L. A. traffic too. Let me just say…agony.

At this time, I also reconnected with the Terminator. I had always wished we could be friends and hated that we never talked anymore. So I called him up, told him just that, and we are good friends to this day.

On a sadder note, my Papa passed away while I was in rehearsals for Funny Girl. The smartest man in the world had finally checked out. I still have a hard time realizing I will never see him again, as if he’s still waiting for me to come visit in Arizona.

Right after Funny Girl ended, I was cast in Cabrillo Music Theatre’s The Sound of Music. S7300236But before I went into rehearsals for that, I got signed up for singing in a concert, “Salute to Valor,” in Oahu, Hawaii. I had never been to Hawaii, so another whim could now be checked off my list.

After I returned from Hawaii, my schedule was full with work and rehearsals. I started losing my close relationships with Anne and my other girlfriends. Going from work to rehearsal in one day almost EVERY day made me ache for alone time. So I was on a hiatus from the parties and “girl time” hangs.

I was infected with the career virus.

It was all I could think about. When was the next audition? What songs do I need to have ready? New headshots, I needed new headshots! I had a system. Work, work out, rehearsal and/or audition, bed. I even switched to organic and natural foods. THAT was a huge switch for me!

As soon as The Sound of Music closed, I lined up two more auditions. Both I got callbacks for and both were seriously considering me to be apart of their shows. One was an Equity house, something I’ve been needing to get into. The other was Cabrillo again, but I was up for a lead role this time.

By the end of my second year, I finally got my first lead in a musical in California. Tomorrow marks the beginning of my third year, and I start rehearsals for the role of Grace Farrell in Annie. I feel incredibly blessed.

And as happy as I am with how busy I’m keeping myself on my career path, I am much more alone in it. My friendships with many people have faded in result of my busy schedule. What bewilders me more is that I actually LIKE being alone. This applies to romantic relationships as well. I’ve found them to be more stressful than they are worth, that they aren’t any fun, and they get in the way of my freedom. Being a girl who used to wish for a boyfriend every night until she finally got one at the young age of 21, after having three serious relationships, I definitely take my wishes back. By the end of my second year, I have discovered that I am NOT any good in relationships.

Currently…

Cause, well, who knows what the future has in store…

And with THAT said, considering all the incredible adventures I embarked on during my second year, I can’t WAIT to find out what my third year will be like! Romance, heartbreak, career success and career failure, earthquakes and tsunamis, the end of the world, who knows?…I expect it all! The adventures of being alive…

Being sick never hurt…

Except when auditions are around the corner. Being an actress/singer, getting a cold is one of the worst things that can happen to you. Getting to auditions and booking a role is hard enough without coughing up pieces of your lungs or having your nose run like Niagara Falls.

I almost never went to my Annie audition because of my cold. But I decided testing out my ability to sing well while being under the weather would be a fun personal challenge. I love challenges. So I sang with a slightly melted Halls cough drop in my mouth, cherry flavored—yum, and thankfully got called back for the role of Lily St. Regis and one of the Boylan sisters. The role of Lily called for a nasally singer, and nasally was definitely working out for me that day.

The day of the callback, I managed to kill the sickness, but the cough, as coughs do, stuck around in my lungs like an insatiable itch. So, mouth full of cherry flavored cough drops, I sang for Lily, danced for Lily, and cold-read for Lily. Then I had to stay around to sing for one of the Boylan sisters and do another round of dancing for ensemble. I ended up staying at the callback for about five hours. Near the end of the night, the director sent everybody home but me and one other girl. We were both going for Lily. We knew each other from working in another show together, and I was well aware of how talented she was. Gorgeous and talented.

I have to interject a random thought here. In a tight battle of auditioning, my brain usually starts wandering off in other directions in order to keep my nerves down. So I’ll admit, while the girl and I were sitting anxiously in the hallway waiting to be called into the rehearsal room to learn a song we didn’t know, I was thinking about guys. That’s right. Guys I really like. And there’s not that many…so my brain really was tempted to distract me into daydream mode.

And then the director finally called us back in to sing again. This would be our third time singing. We both sang the best we could with how unfamiliar we were to the song. Later the director asked me to come back the next night to read for Grace Farrell.

Grace Farrell?! I thought. I didn’t even think I had even the slightest chance for that role. When viewing the audition breakdown, I knew they were looking to cast an Equity actress in the part, so I completely disregarded auditioning for Grace at all.

The next night, I showed up and sat with all the other Grace potentials. It was one of those moments where we were all sizing each other up. Each one looked very different, but very specific. Beautiful women and all apart of the union, and all of which have played many a leading role with major theater companies. Being new to California, I hadn’t had the chance to up my role credits as of yet. I have played leading roles in the past, just not in California. A couple of the actresses discovered my non-union status and eyed me curiously.

So I started thinking of guys again…all the while attempting to keep my itching cough at bay.

The director brought us in, we sang, we read and we waited. Then the director let everybody go, but asked me to stick around for a while longer. That’s when my gut flipped over. When the director asks you to stay, usually that’s a really good sign. But you can’t ever know in this business. Everything is so unpredictable, you can’t EVER assume anything.

The last few minutes of the night were spent with me reading with the only other man there reading for Oliver Warbucks. It was just the two of us. Then we were let go as well, with unanswered questions. We were told we’d hear by Friday, and I couldn’t wait!

Friday came and I got a voice mail from the director saying that he didn’t want me dangling, but that he just wanted me to know that they do want me in the show, just can’t figure out what role to offer me. That was tough to hear. Not a yes, not a no. An “I don’t know.” I can’t STAND “I don’t knows.” Those answers eat away at me until I start scratching my skin off. Every day after that, I waited by the phone like I was waiting to hear from a guy I really liked after a great first date and that he said he’d call me soon, BUT HE DIDN’T!!!!

Yes, that’s exactly how I felt. Auditioning is just like dating. Stressful.

I counted the days and started to think I didn’t make the cut. I was also seeing people on Facebook announcing their roles in Annie, one of them being the actress who was with me on the first night of callbacks. She landed Lily, which she would be amazing at! But it really started making me feel very discouraged. So I began planning for future auditions and a possible showcase that I had to register soon for. It wasn’t until the fourth day did I finally get the call.

“Hello, Christanna?” the director said.

“Hi, how are you?” I said.

“Good. Sorry this has taken so long. We had a lot of things to work with. But listen, we’d like you to play Grace.”

“Are you serious?” That was my first response. I couldn’t help it.

“Uh, yes. I am.”

Then an explosion of yeses and absolutelies tumbled from my mouth as I paced the living room in my underwear (because I was in the midst of changing clothes when I got the call and now didn’t have the mental ability to continue dressing…). I’m pretty sure I blasted the director’s ears off as well.

And there you go. It’s almost been two years since I moved to California, I’ve done four shows, and I’ve finally booked my first lead here.

I guess I should be sick more often…

Eh, maybe not.

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